With the 21/22 Championship season over and the next campaign drawing ever closer, transfer rumours run rife as managers start putting their plans in place ahead of pre-season.
With the likes of Paul Pogba, Christian Eriksen and Fabian Delph all out of contract, we can sometimes get carried away thinking they might fancy an away game at Kenilworth Road next season.
I’m Justin Peach from the Second Tier Podcast and in today’s piece, I identify three players who could come in and fix some gaps as I go through sensible transfers for each Championship side.
This is the third of a series of four articles with Preston North End, QPR, Reading, Rotherham United, Sheffield United and Stoke City all covered in this edition.
Preston North End
Ryan Lowe will be looking to add more quality to this side which is not far off from a top six push.
With the right player in the right area, Preston could easily challenge next season.
- Michal Helik – (Barnsley)
The Polish international enjoyed a stellar season despite Barnsley having a disaster. Comfortable with the ball and dominant in the air, Helik has the whole package.
With one year left on his contract, a fee could be negotiable with a world cup on the horizon.
- Luke Southwood – (Reading)
It’s a surprise to see the 24-year-old available for transfer, especially considering his 66.4% save percentage last season.
Bearing in mind the leaky defence he was behind, he was one of the top performing keepers last season.
- Macauley Bonne – (QPR)
The loss of Archer, Barkhuizen and Sincalir will mean moving for Bonne will give them a player who has scored double figures in two of his last three seasons.
Versatile, energetic and a good squad option, Bonne could and would be essential throughout the season.
It’s clear where QPR will need to strengthen this season.
However, who they bring in will depend on what formation and style of play is favoured by new manager Michael Beale.
- Robbie Brady – (Unattached)
The Ireland international provides experience and a need to get his career back on track.
A move to QPR will give them a versatile left sided player with plenty of quality and ammunition for forward players.
- Kristian Pedersen – (Unattached)
The loss of Yoanne Barbet will be huge but bringing in Pedersen will mean there’s a versatile, no nonsense option who can play as a full back or left sided centre back in a three man defence.
- Carlton Morris – (Barnsley)
A player who’s capable with his back to goal, as well as with the ball at his feet, Carlton Morris could be an option for Beale.
His goals to game ratio is impressive for Barnsley and could look to leave should the right club come in for him.
What don’t Reading need next season? At the time of writing, Ince has nine players contracted for pre-season and that’s yet to improve.
Goals, creativity, clean sheets, all needs adding to which is not easy with transfer restrictions.
- Steven Fletcher – (Unattached)
Creativity will be scarce next season, so having Fletcher will ensure there’s a striker there who will work hard for goals.
Experienced, hardworking and a proven record of scoring at this level, the Scotsman would be a worthy pick up.
- Tom Ince – (Unattached)
This is an obvious one after being impressive for the Royals last season.
A versatile forward capable of winning games on his own, Ince could be the difference between staying in the Championship and relegation next season.
- Richard Smallwood – (Unattached)
Released from Hull, Smallwood has been part of teams that have defied the odds before, cough cough Rotherham.
He has the experience and leadership skills needed for a tough season ahead for Reading.
Rotherham were unfortunate to be relegated in their last Championship campaign.
However, Warne is an exceptional manager and shrewd recruiter so will know exactly what’s needed to improve their squad.
- Jack Tucker – (Unattached)
Recently linked with Reading, Tucker was exceptional in a Gillingham side that was relegated from the third tier.
He has the characteristics to thrive in a Paul Warne side and would make the perfect partner for Michael Ihiekwe.
- Daniel Udoh – (Shrewsbury Town)
Udoh could fill the void left by Ladapo easily. A player who can dribble and create, as well as score, he will offer a different dimension to the Millers attack.
- Sam Hutchinson – (Unattached)
A midfielder/defender who is local to the area and comes with bags of Championship experience sounds like the perfect deal.
Will offer Warne’s side solidity and aggression, along with the ability to play as a holding midfielder or centre back.
If not for an injury crisis from February, Sheffield United could well have been promoted automatically last season.
Shoring up the squad and replacing key personnel will be the aim for Heckingbottom as the Blades look to make another push for promotion.
- Lucas Joao – (Reading)
Joao has proved time and time again how clinical he is. Not only that, his first touch is magic and his movement in and around the 18 yard box is exceptional.
He’ll provide a different avenue of attack for the Blades and alleviate the pressure on Billy Sharp.
- Callum Styles – (Barnsley)
Energy, versatile and constantly improving. Styles has already admitted to being keen on a move elsewhere and could be persuaded to move down the road.
- Philip Zinckernagel – (Watford)
Sheffield United needed to move quickly to replace Gibbs-White and should still look to bring in a talisman.
One player who could fit the mould at Bramall Lane is Zinckernagel. He has thrived in a disciplined, high pressing team at Forest that strikes many similarities with Heckingbottom’s setup.
The Potters seem to head into every season in recent memory as outside shouts for promotion.
And, after a disappointingly inconsistent 2021/22 campaign, Michael O’Neill will head into his fourth season at the club with a push for the top six firmly almost a necessity.
The early signs are positive with Lewis Baker penning a new long-term deal – a sign of ambition for a Stoke side who have been outside the top flight since 2017.
- Callum Brittain – (Barnsley)
A wing-back who likes to dribble and is consistent with his delivery, Brittain should feature high on most Championship teams lists this season.
He struggled last season as Barnsley were relegated, but in the right system with Campbell and Brown hitting the channels, he will bag plenty of assists.
- Will Vaulks – (Unattached)
Stoke need a player in the middle of the park to break up play and be the disciplined enforcer even if Joe Allen remains.
A reliable performer, he will allow the likes of Baker and Powell to thrive.
- Tobias Figueirido – (Unattached)
Stoke are short in the middle of defence and Figueirido could provide the necessary, no-nonsense approach to defending they missed at times last season.
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